• Jennifer Harrison




We walked on the beach, my brother ahead,
my father’s presence like a wraith, a shadow
in the nearby dunes. We collected one of each shell
each category precious as though we were
cataloguing some lost unclassifiable treasure.

Half an angel-shell here; there, five pipis:
That’s not a Yeah, I’m sure it is …
Jet skiers were ripping up the shallow bar
and like muscular seals slamming the waves
churning the swell with petroleum spoor.

We walked quietly along the beach
as though there might not be anything to do or say—
the sun directly overhead, a cloudless day—
a shoal of young flathead pale as sand
darting through the extraordinary blue.

The shells on my desk are in a clear
plastic box. I visit them daily. I see them
on my way to work as I rush down the hall.
Strangely, they have kept their colour, and form,
as though that day will not age, as we do,

my brother and I, sharing unspoken history,
my father’s wraith, weed-thin in the finely
shifting dunes—his hands, his way
of talking shyness into silence,
his way of sorting nails, rivets, sinkers, string.




The Sirens


            i.m. Janet Zeleznikow 2009

from safe suburbs they are calling
from straits where heroes operate in parallel
and from boats that sail safely past the wailing danger
the Sirens are calling

from the darkness said to brood
within an epic’s reedy falter
and from the lore of lies and rocky sighs
the Sirens are calling

and it’s not the way their voices continue
to summon us—there is no malevolence—
I, too, have a song
that calls me back to myself

alive or drowned—it’s just that yesterday
I picked up the phone to call you, my friend,
but there were no oceans to hear me
only the Sirens were home